Dealing with ethical dilemmas in public administration: the 'ALIR' imperatives of ethical reasoning By : Anthony Makrydemetres


...................................... 8 The imperative for integrity ..................................................Contents Table 1............................................................................................. 3 Dealing with ethical dilemmas in public administration . 2........................... 5.................................................................................................................................. 7............................. 7 The imperative for legality ......................................... Introduction............. 6............................... 8............................................... 4............... 9................................................ 3 The rise of ethical reasoning about morals .................................... 12 2 ......... 3........................ 9 The imperative for responsiveness . 10 Conclusion............................................ 5 The ingredients of ALIR ............................................... 6 The imperative for accountability ........................................................

in turn. ethics was not among the earliest issues to be examined in a systematic manner. Administrative systems in western societies as well as emergent administrative cultures in developing countries often experience and are confronted with a number of opposing values and ethical dilemmas concerning the became his chief object of thought and inquiry in the fifth century BC (Rowe.'well doing' . The focus of ethical analysis has shifted to aspects of value and normative dimensions of conduct. defined as the actual choice of the good . Whereas in philosophy concern about nature physics . it is not hard to realize that to overcome such a state of systemic doubt is not simply a matter of personal integrity and professional qualification. in the evolution of administrative thinking attention gradually shifted from the purely structural and functional aspects of organization and management to questions about leadership and motivation initially and then to the proper conduct on the grounds of certain ethical and normative standards.after deliberation. rather it was among the latest. As a result.and not the outer . Socrates viewed ethics as the rational way that a thoughtful man could follow in order to achieve morality.1. that is the knowledge of what is really. A similar trend can be observed in the history of administrative thought about moral standards in governance and administration.who is regarded as the founder of moral philosophy . In particular. 1990) is then of wider significance. Socrates related morality with knowledge. Naturally. It is worth noting that the decisive moment that marked the transition from physics to ethics in philosophy is related to Socrates . Snell. the burden of conflicting values and divergent responsibilities leave the contemporary administrator in an ethical quandary and in a state of personal anxiety or angst. 1984). at the beginning of the new century we are surrounded by new questions. which was. in administrative and organizational analysis ethical questions arose in the aftermath of earlier concerns about the specification of legitimate conduct on the basis of so called 'external' determinants. The rise of ethical reasoning about morals In the history of philosophy. good and useful to man.preceded concern about the inner world. Introduction The new century seems to dawn with a renewed load of ethical and philosophical dilemmas which leave practitioners and academics of public administration alike in a predicament. conduct and orientation of public services.since ethics and concern with the inner . Equally significant and even harder to sustain is a threshold of institutional awareness of and receptivity to these emerging demands. they also affect the civil service and public administration in its various manifestations at both the national and international level. authority systems and culture. 2. uncertainties and doubts resulting from the overarching processes of the globalization of market economies and information technology as well as the localization of political conflict. Whereas at the beginning of the 20th century there seemed to be only answers and convictions. The phenomenon termed the institutionalization of doubt (Giddens. as well as an increased capacity to respond adequately to and effectively deal with these challenges. The rational foundation of ethics consisted in searching for and reasoning about virtue. and how and to what extent they are internalized and respected by the individual civil servant in public institutions. these features of modernity are not unique to civil society. It is in this sense that 'virtue is knowledge' and unless wo/man 3 . 1976. If ethics came after physics in philosophy. However. and not simply phenomenally.

that real and lasting happiness can be brought about. instead of aiming in his action only this: whether his action is just or unjust and whether it befits a good or a bad man's action. the choice of the good. 5-9) In conclusion. but rather as a matter of voluntary choice of the good. the notion of science 'episteme' . for ancient Greek philosophers ethics consisted of knowledge and choice of the good things in life . to no lesser an extent one might add.was inclusive not only of the abstract knowledge of a certain field of thought and expertise. Socrates may be credited with the contribution that he 'democratized' ethical theory in the sense that he made it available and accessible to the people at large. but also of its artful application in life. 4 . a strong normative element permeated the whole scientific endeavour in the sense that values and normative standards ought to guide action and be translated into actual conduct.and administration. namely. reasoning about morality. which is ethics. the congruence of ultimate ends with concrete deeds. it is only by these means. Socrates himself demonstrated with his own personal example the essence of ethical responsibility when he said in his Apology: You are wrong if you think that anyone who has value would count the danger of life or death or anything else. That. the predominance of virtue in the Socratic discourse is predicated on the concept that only conscious and purposive action can be judged and evaluated from an ethical point of view and on the basis of moral standards. Moreover. however. Indeed. Indeed. Moreover. As a result. hence discovering the true nature of virtue. Thus.has or acquires knowledge s/he cannot be virtuous. ethos is 'the habit of the good' and ethics is about choice. discourse about values that ought to guide conduct was considered as a value in itself that would bring about virtue and happiness if sought after in a persistent and systematic way. presents a major problem since the implementation gap is always there. but essentially the actual practice of it. which is then habituated in actual conduct. would be able to achieve lasting means of which he was able to test people's views through constant questioning. yawning and inhibiting the transformation of value into action. the main function of which was to provide the conditions under which the members of the human Plato's famous Dialogues disclose . 1991). the Polity. Both Plato (Socrates' chief disciple) and Aristotle (Plato's successor) regarded ethics as part of politics. Socrates advanced a unified and comprehensive idea about morality and happiness arguing that ethics is about the knowledge of the good things in life (Viastos. (28 B. not simply to question and ponder what is good but even more significantly to become good. Even more.' Yet that is what puts the moral integrity and responsibility of the doer to a decisive test: the courage and determination to live up to his/her proclaimed standards and values.' A further implication of that is ethics cannot be conceived of as a matter of punishment and rewards. knowledge and the approximation of real happiness becomes the essence of the science of the good. He was persuaded that this type of discursive self-examination makes people better because it entails continual questioning of themselves and others about what to do and what to avoid doing on the grounds of ethical and moral standards. It may also be pointed out that ethics for ancient Greeks referred not only to theoretical discussion about the topic. which is then consistently exhibited in one's conduct. Evidently. according to Aristotle. Thus. He did that with his dear and powerful method of discursive analysis .

therefore. In an effort to make some sense out of the multitude of criteria that one way or another enter and frequent the organizational landscape of public administration a set of ground rules have been distinguished which. by what happens in states. 'Solving' the dilemma in such a way would. concluded Socrates in his unsurpassed Apology (38 A) for an ethical stance in life. 'Life which is not subject to examination cannot be accepted by man'.' The central function of the statesman is then to provide for the moral education of citizens.otherwise life is not worth living. It is then the case that ethical vagueness and lack of clarity about overall values to guide action and choices in 'hard cases' may come close to unleashing a spirit of unbound relativism if not cynicism whereby everything stands. state officials and civil servants exposed to acute dilemmas can hardly help succumbing to a state of confusion and embarrassment in which they are often quite unwillingly thrust. classify in an orderly way basic administrative dilemmas. be a contradiction in terms and a misnomer. the prime criterion and objective of good governance was. neither ethics and values nor rights and duties of public servants and citizens alike. however. and this is the wish of every legislator. which are then ordered and linked among themselves in a more systematic and coherent manner. even worse their incompatible juxtaposition also implies that they are mutually exclusive in the sense that the satisfaction of the one can only be made if the other is sacrificed. 3. unlike problems. dilemmas abound in complex organizations. In circumstances like these public administration instead of functioning as a well ordered state of legitimate purposes degenerates into a state of confusion and indeterminacy. cannot be solved in the terms in which they are initially presented to the decision-maker. morality in essence consists in continually questioning it. In order to do that s/he will require knowledge. to accustom citizens (and civil servants. 196 1). 1960).. for Aristotle. one is entering the world of ethical dilemmas or that of 'hard choices' (Hart.' As a result. for legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them. This is the chief merit and benefit of human beings . since the solution reached likewise would seem to be no more than a scission and a dichotomic split of the intertwined aspects of the issue at hand. be dealt with in a more effective and appropriate way if the terms of reference are altered and the whole situation is reformulated and redefined so that full account is taken and due respect paid to the warring value options. A dilemma may. But if everything stands and anything goes. and to the extent that contrasted values or decisional premises could apply in the situation. The reason is that dilemmas. Naturally. This is confirmed . however difficult or complex the latter may be (Rapoport. Indeed. And this is about what makes ethics such an interesting part of the 'Art of Living'. Caught on the horns of a dilemma the decision-maker is not only faced with opposed and perhaps equally unwelcome alternatives. therefore.Not surprisingly.. and it is in this that a good polity differs from a bad one. and that kind of knowledge is acquired through constant search and questioning about things and action. then nothing can be taken seriously. and second. 5 . A dilemma is something wider and more demanding than a problem. Dealing with ethical dilemmas in public administration When confronted with the fundamental question what to do and how to act in complex situations. whereby the choice of one value alternative is necessarily followed by the negation of the other. It is then the case that solving a dilemma resembles a zero sum game. one may add) to the practice of virtue. first. knowledge of virtue. which fail to tackle them effectively. and those who do not effect it miss their mark.

is constructed on the basis of an ideal type (after Max Weber. the rule of law and the principle of legality. As a matter of fact. 1978). The interdependence and interconnectedness among these distinguished major premises of ethical reasoning in public administration suggests that dilemmas can only be dealt with in an effective and morally accepted way to the extent that full account is taken and due respect is paid to the four functionally associated imperatives: • • The principle of democratic legitimacy and accountability of public bureaucracy and administration. Taking account of the previous hypothesis about the underlying convergence between the Parsonian concept of 'evolutionary universals' and the ALIR imperatives of ethical reasoning expounded here.' 4. The ingredients of ALIR There is no question that the major determinants of administrative conduct in the public sector include: (1) the wider political context within which administrative organizations operate. 1964. we may at this point reach a preliminary conclusion about good governance and the moral standards obtaining in it. capable of carrying out its missions and tasks efficiently and effectively and be responsive to civil society. Either through its classification function or its lexical ordering of legitimate criteria in dealing with administrative dilemmas. 1971). who staff the public services and help deliver their products to the public at large and (4) the variety of citizens and users of public services who in the multitude of their associations form the particular type of civil society. The principles have also been arranged in the form of a lexical ordering and a kind of scalar logic (after John Rawls. Such a type of governance and administration would. of course. so that the sequential mode of their application in concrete cases becomes manifest. What may perhaps conveniently be described as the ALIR model of imperatives of ethical reasoning in public administration (from the initials of its key notions) would then take the shape given in Figure 1 in terms of a lexical ordering. therefore. whereby law and only law should govern the administration. The advanced set of fundamental principles or criteria that integrate and rearrange the process of dealing with ethical dilemmas in public administration are: (1) democratic accountability of administration. subject to and open to testing in practice and theory. the ALIR model of imperatives provides in a condensed form an 'ethical canon' which is. which is heuristic in nature. (2) the system of law and the kind of legal order that applies to it. 6 . bound to the rule of law. have to be democratic. It will be seen that the set of guiding ethical principles. It would seem that the more inclusive evolutionary universals reflect on and propagate their counterparts in the administrative domain in an unmistakable way. (3) the body of public employees. (3) professional integrity and (4) responsiveness to civil society. The ALIR idea forms something similar to Tailcoat Parsons' (1964) 'evolutionary universals' as far as public administration is concerned.ought to be taken into account whenever one is engaged in the business of dealing with them. (2) the rule of law and the principle of legality. both sets of concepts bear a close resemblance and may even be considered as complementary to each other.

and* the principle of responsiveness and responsibility of administration to civil society. It should. if that happens the bureaucracy (civil or military) enters the political arena. however. Since it is ministers who are accountable to Parliament. undermines representative democracy and subjugates politics an government to its own interests and commands. 7 . Consequently. 1993). connotes not only their division of function and their structural separation but also the subordination of the latter to the former. professional integrity. the administration should be held accountable to government and parliament on matters of policy and expediency. Hence the owe a duty of loyalty and faithfulness to the duly elected or appointed political masters. The ALIR model of ethical imperatives can then provide an indicative 'ideal typical' standard or canon against which particular instances could be measured and evaluated. 5. the artful application of such a set of moral commands in concrete situations and circumstances will bear witness to the particular kind of ethical reasoning that a specific administrative system or public institution is able to achieve and sustain. Subordination civil servants to elected representatives who act as law-makers and policy-setter forms a sine qua non precondition of democratic politics. autonomy and capacity of the administrative apparatus of the state. which doe not belong to it. which forms one of the most classic doctrines of modem political science and public administration (Wilson. not civil servants. It is only by that means that the representatives of the nation may hold the bureaucracy accountable to the will of the people and the general interest (volonti ginirale). The imperative for accountability The distinction between politics and administration. and keep at bay their own personal preferences in the performance of their duties and responsibilities.• • the principle of meritocracy. The loyalty of the bureaucracy to its political masters is grounded on the obligation of ministers in parliamentary democracies to be answerable and responsible to the legislature (ministerial responsibility to Parliament). It is then a fundamental ethical duty bearing on civil servants in pluralist parliamentary democracies to subordinate themselves to political authority. Unless subordinated t political control the bureaucracy and administration usurps power. also be stressed that the supremacy of politics over the administration in the constitutional division of powers does not amount to and cannot be taken to mean the politicization of public services and the state bureaucracy. 1887). the primacy of politics in the politico-administrative nexus explains the ultimate political or rather governmental control of the administrative machinery of the state in a democracy. it follows that the latter are obliged to execute the orders of the former even if the disagree with their content. The conclusion that may be drawn is that 'democratic virtue' does form part and parcel of the core values and normative determinants of administrative behaviour in the public sector: namely. Thus. In the same vein they would have to show a spirit of neutrality and discretion in their official capacity as members o the administrative infrastructure of the state vis-a-vis partisan politics. and even compared among themselves for analytical or explanatory purposes (Mouzelis. however transient they may be. provided that they originate from a legitimate source of authority in the institutional hierarchy. and that authority insists on being executed despite the remonstrances put forward by officials. because that would then undermine the instrumental value of the executive branch of government and administration.

Even in antiquity. in contrast. etc. as well as that equity.' The idea that people should be governed by law rather than by fiat is. Consequently. is founded on the idea that the differentiation of roles and functions between politics and administration increases the quality and potential of either of them. germane both to democracy and modernity. government and administration alike as the executive branch of the state and indirectly of the nation itself have to respect the law. The control of legality of administrative action. Their artful application in concrete cases by administrative or judicial authorities then forms the essence of the principle of legality and the rule of law. in particular. in which all virtue is consummated. the state could be seen as no more than the mechanism which the nation set up for its own governance and administration. Usually. Solon 8 .consists in a violation of law. which is the expression of the will of the nation. Thus. originating from the constitutional tradition of the French revolution. initially exercised by the administration itself and ultimately by independent courts of justice. In this sense. 1991). It could also be said that law establishes what may be described as the minimum standard of morality. 1985. Respect for and application of the principle of legality entails a particular type of control on administrative action that aims to see that public administration operates within the context of the law established by the legislature (Parliament). Thus. the concept of justice. traditional. Jowell. . Etat de Droit).the implication being that the legitimately established system of laws should be allowed to rule freely and without interference the affairs of the human community. The imperative for legality The rule of law (Rechtstaat. it was regarded by Max Weber as providing the third type of legitimation of authority (charismatic. Respect and adherence to the principle of legality manifests a spirit of constitutionalism and forms an essential prerequisite for the legitimacy of state action and the exercise of authority. thus. theft. pertains in a very specific and significant way to administrative conduct. according to the fundamental constitutional principle of popular sovereignty that is enshrined in most democracies nowadays. it follows that all power must be exercised in the name and to the general interest of the people. reasonableness and impartiality have been respected. Rivero. In that regard. that is putting someone above or beyond the law. abuse of power. not of other humans . Since the source of all power is ultimately the people. of course.' required that people should recognize the sovereignty of law. legal-rational). 1980. Modem governance and administration. besides being one of the fundamental evolutionary universals in both modem politics and society.Fonctionnaires de gestion (administrators) although guided by and subordinated to fonctionnaires d'autorité (politicians) are not their clients or servants in the partisan sense of the term.' purports to ensure. That would well have been the case in the context of the spoils system that prevailed in administrative practices in many a country in the past. consistent and fair enforcement of law can be a first priority of an ethics reform strategy. however. 1977. favouritism. unethical conduct . that proper procedures have been followed and observed. Spiliotopoulos. And for that to take place in an effective rather than an arbitrary manner the running of the business of the state has to be guided and determined by an articulate system of rules and laws. 6. according to Aristotle. It can then be argued and with good cause be expected that the artful application of the principle of legality in administrative performance would serve and promote the rule of law and the avoidance of abuse of power ( it bribery. 'speaking truth to power' can be considered as a vital ingredient of professional ethics and moral integrity of civil servants and the administrative machinery of the state in general.

Disciplinary measures should be taken by the service's own councils promoting a corporate spirit (esprit de corps) and self-government in the administrative profession. that of course may be reserved for the necessary number of permanent civil servants whose duties and responsibilities involve either exercise of powers conferred by public law or/and safeguarding the general interests of the state. from this category those employed on a contractual basis (unestablished staff). not a legislator. and independent enough to offer official advice to ministers as well as to implement public policies and decisions in an efficient and effective manner in the public interest. and that people should be ruled by law. experience and expertise.). promotion on the career ladder should also be based on seniority (to the extent that longer service testifies wider experience) and merit (after rating and evaluation of performance). the notion of public administration is usually inclusive of all public services exercising authority in accordance with public law and under the overall guidance and direction of politically responsible ministers or other elected officials at the central. patronage). Recruitment should take place on the basis of merit ascertained by special tests which are administered by assigned independent authorities so that entry to the service is no longer subject to spoils system practices (clientelism. 1959) has taken shape in Europe and elsewhere. namely. Continuity or tenure of service and exclusiveness of practice in the designated field. it is nonetheless the case that a 'profession of government' (Chapman. involving not only its legal or juridical aspects ('juristenmonopol') but also other branches and fields of executive action (engineers. There could be excluded. 5. Civil servants are supposed to be fully competent on the basis of their ascertained knowledge.abandoned power after establishing a set of rules for his native city-state of Athens in the sixth century Bc. To that end the essential features of the distinct profession of government and administration have. The imperative for integrity The application of knowledge and science in public affairs has been historically related to the advent of and increase in professionalism in their exercise. permanent officers subordinate to ministers who are responsible to Parliament. 1996) is comprised of the body of civil servants. doctors. including neutrality of practice. discipline and control. 7. and not on the basis of partisan favouritism. Training and education should increase professionalism in government and administration as a whole. regional or local level. proven to be as follows: 1. Professional integrity and autonomy . otherwise he would be a tyrant. not by themselves'. 4. favouritism. What he intended to declare by this example was the value of respect for the law in itself. from a historical and comparative perspective. Thus.the 'professional virtue'. i.qualifying absolute hierarchical subordination entails that public administration may be brought under political guidance and control but its staff is recruited and serves under the authority of law and in the public interest. 3. career. economists. However relative or tentative that may occasionally have proven to be.' 2. Thus. meritocracy becomes an important precondition of professional integrity and autonomy. There should also be a special set of rights and obligations promoting loyalty and integrity. etc. in order to carry out their functions public agencies employ personnel having the status of public officers and are thereof governed by special provisions for recruitment. 9 . a readiness to serve different legitimate governments regardless of one's personal preferences or choices. therefore. The state's 'guardian 6lite' (Argyriades. as we may call it .e.

not of civil society. In this respect. something specifically particularized' (Hegel. avoiding corruption in the delivery of services. would then seem to offer an appropriate definition of the ethical imperative for public servants. the profession of government's administration and. As Hegel (1967: 191) supremely put it: What the service of the state really requires is that men shall forego the selfish and capricious satisfaction of their subjective ends. therefore. so far as public business is concerned. they acquire the right to find their satisfaction in. individuals actualize themselves while partaking in various activities in civil society and 'in becoming something definite. and not simply an externally imposed obligation. the state was for Hegel the 'actuality of the ethical idea'. The state. with its system of governance and law provides the underlying conditions by which individuals and their actions may find their fullest fulfilment. knowledge and expertise would have to be used with certain standards defining professional ethics such as. experience and expertise is in all established professions (doctors. that is the unity of the universal and the particular. of expertise. The imperative for responsiveness For Hegel public functionaries were the servants of the state only. since it was the former that expressed the general will of the people. engineers. academics. of concrete persons with their own private 'systems of needs' and the efforts to satisfy them. of judgement and conduct in accordance to standards. therefore. This is indeed often the case in many an administrative system in various countries. as Horace put it in one of his Odes. by this very sacrifice.Professionalism in public service could then be seen to accrue from a combination of knowledge. The latter . accountants. In this fact. for instance. Hegel's thesis could be more readily understood if account is taken of the fact that he lived: 10 . In this somehow dichotomous idea of social construction. the more recent profession of public management' I would be accompanied by a code of ethics consolidating professional virtue and integrity. 1967: 133). The imperative for integrity constitutes. i. This then became the sphere of the particular. Whereas the state served the general interest. etc.e.on the contrary. journalists. however.) usually accompanied by a set of shared values held by peers on how to use and apply this knowledge. That is to say." We may. civil society was the state of partial interests. to a comparable extent. and increasing morale and self-confidence. conclude that the professional virtue for civil servants would impose on them certain rather austere standards and would require that they uphold and respect them in their conduct. for instance. corruption and exhibiting integrity would then be for them a matter of personal and professional honour and prestige in a culture of ethics. was seen by Hegel as a conglomerate of particular and inconsistent wishes and interests. but only in. a source of internal self-control in administrative conduct based on ethical standards and criteria shared and respected by the corps of professional administrators. Competence on the basis of knowledge. For that reason. Avoiding.burgerliche Gesellshaft . Otherwise. there lies the link between universal and particular interests which constitutes both the concept of the state and its inner stability. the dutiful discharge of their public functions. lawyers. as well as commitment to the field. the profession is deprived of an essential precondition of its claim to legitimacy. 'Integer vitae sclerisque pours' (integrity in life and pure from crime). 8.

acquire the features that society expects of them. rather the latter is under society's watchful eye (Buchanan. 1985). 'a country's view of public administration reflects its underlying philosophy of society and the state' (Chapman.vis-a-vis society. Argyriades. The transition. it 11 . however cumbersome it may be. what cannot be missed in the bottom line is an obligation and a readiness on the part of the civil service to sincerely explain and justify its action in the public interest. feedback criticism and evaluation of performance. Therefore. That is why civil society has been declared as one of the most essential preconditions of liberty and democracy (Geliner. facilitating access to services and creating an enabling environment for sustainable human and social development. Furthermore. His book was an attempt to educate Germans beyond 'civil' to 'political' life. the imperative for responsiveness to civil society calls for an increased awareness and readiness to adapt to changing values and conditions in society at large. which is subject to a distinct 'ethic of responsibility' in the Weberian sense . balancing a responsive state and an active civil society presents as an optimal strategy for enhancing the quality of and prospects for democracy. 1996. bordering on each other. no political life and even less democratic polity is likely to grow and flourish. civil society not only furnishes the state with needs and demands of an individual nature. civil servants forming a middle-class profession. like the English. the 'civic virtue' of ethical reasoning in state action entails that public institutions be responsive to society and pay attention to the needs and demands of the people. Public administration forms a partial regime in the societal complex. and stresses the need for an overall 'external' or societal accountability of state authorities and administration. In this sense. 1998). 1967: 376) Almost 200 years later we are now in a position to know that. instead it would cooperate in building social capital to the benefit of the human community concerned. unless there is an articulate and independent civil society. par excellence. a political life and tradition. from the command type of authority over people to more communicative types of reasoning and administration of things seems to emerge as a paradigm shift in societal affairs radicalizing the features of modernity in our times. the notions of responsiveness and responsibility bear a 'family resemblance'. Naturally. 1959: 309). a country where most citizens were simply 'subjects'. therefore. Responsiveness is not restricted to market forces but also and even primarily concerns citizens' participation in all levels and layers of government. Responsiveness also entails consultation in governance and the promotion of a kind of 'communicative ethic' (Habermas. The new prevailing idea by the turn of the 21st century is that the state should neither command civil society nor be subservient to it. (Hegel. but also with valuable sources of information. 1987) in societal affairs. indeed. privatization and citizen participation loom large in the repertoire of reform programmes and practices of many contemporary administrative systems. However multi-layered their meaning may be. and affect the interface between civil society and the state. Society is no longer at the mercy of state authority and control by the bureaucracy. as well as with the notion of accountability. was almost wholly lacking. State officials are affected by the way the public at large regards them. Eventually. 1998). and where. In this respect. without participation in the work of government. notions like decentralization. In this context. as well as empowering people in human communities (Bovens. It is not only that citizens have increased their voice as taxpayers and customers of public services demanding value for money. it is part of the state. citizens and civil are also seen to be acting as watchdogs to the state's performance or failure. debureaucratization.

9. 342 e). For this reason they tend to be overlooked or even ignored in the actual decision-making process. Thus. This was essentially a transition if not a 'paradigmatic shift' from authoritarian.should consistently act in such a way that the interests are well served and looked after by the administrators. comments Plato. or rather giving what is appropriate to each one (suum quique) would bring about justice to all. However. To that Thrasymachus though reluctantly agreed. 12 . attracts severe criticism. as a matter of fact. what might be described as the intellectual vertices of the arena in the public domain also form the cornerstones of a unified administrative ethics. the economy. governors' and rulers' chief function is not to mind out for themselves 'but what is advantageous to the sailor and the ruled'. all powerful. inherited from the modemist tradition. governments and public services were entering a period of transition (Hobsbawm. 1 3 and moral virtues reside in middle states (Belfiore. morale and morality in public services and the state's interaction with civil society. Clearly. A new type of balance between politics. mutual support and complementary fulfilment. The basic aim would therefore be not the triumph of one principle or ethical imperative over the other. the key task ahead is to augment the moral competence and dimension of public agencies and institutions by advancing a reflexive kind of ethical reasoning that is radical and comprehensive enough. the strategy for ethics reform in the public sector raises enormous challenges affecting as it does the quality of democracy. As Plato put it in an early chapter in his Republic (A. as the aim is to radicalize modernity. new public management emerges as an alternative to old bureaucratic administration. continuing to model public administration after the Weberian ideal type of bureaucracy. not to dilute it. Factional dissent between parts of a whole that disrupts the balance of the general condition can only be remedied if equal justice is paid to each one of them. Indeed. administration and management become divorced from ethics and morals. In this regard. 1992). Conclusion Even before the 20th century came to an end it was evident that states. the rule of law. There is little doubt that conflicting demands may make administration sound like a paradox. culture and civil society inspires the recent discourse on reinvesting and redesigning the role of the state (and that of public services) vis-Avis the economy and society. As a result. states to more libertarian and associative types of social interaction between the public and non-public domains. from being a virtue. especially in the context of the post-modemist quest for a shift from hierarchy and control to autonomous and negotiated interaction among policy networks. Not surprisingly. each one of the ALIR imperatives of ethical reasoning taken to its extreme would. for Aristotle justice is the balance of passions and actions. Turning mutually exclusive dilemmas into solvable problems would then require a holistic and reflexive approach to ethical reasoning along the lines suggested earlier. In our heavily organized if not bureaucratized societies it is often the case that moral and ethical standards enter rather as constraints to be taken into consideration rather than legitimate objectives. but rather the reduction of incongruence among them and the provision of conditions for their harmonious coexistence. 1994). turn into a vice.

above all it purports to emphasize the significance of putting morality and ethics first in the public administration of tomorrow. It has also been argued that unified administrative virtue is comprised of the components of the ALIR model of ethical reasoning. Their consistent and artful application is not so much a matter of sanction. signifies a shift in focus from external to internalized control and standards. This model presents not only an endeavour for a heuristic synthesis of values. 13 . as well as an enrichment of the normative content of administrative behaviour. This. in turn.Here ethics has been conceived as a body of norms and values that guide official conduct in the public services. but rather an issue of acculturation of ethics and the respective socialization of civil servants.

10. 11. that is in state bureaucracy and administration. 1984). 11 1 103 a. The idea that access to the civil service in the sense of becoming a civil servant should be open to all citizens without any preference except on merit has been one of the marked changes brought about by the French Revolution. 1987). to professional expertise. Talcott Parsons' (1964) seminal theory about the major 'evolutionary universals' in society (market economy. 29). and treat them indiscriminately (Makrydemetres. on the one hand. organized bureaucracy). 6. By the mid 20th century the latter process was even seen as amounting to no less than a 'managerial revolution' (Bumham ' 1945). strictly speaking. 2. In any case there can hardly be any dispute that the twin processes of professionalism in public administration and in managing enterprises has been a fact of 14 . 'Naturally. the most prominent among these have been. in the sense that it should not be allowed to degenerate to instances of excessive formalism. action does to a much lesser extent touch upon truth than theory'. Aristotle in the Nichomachean Ethics. to general utility. 9. The implication here is that the latter kind of administrative knowledge forms a prerogative to civil servants and is not available to those outside the organization. open competitive examination offers guarantees for impartiality in judging the qualifications of candidates (Cassesse and Pellew. Plato remarked in his Republic (473a). and also that 'moral virtue comes about as a result of habit' (Nicomachean Ethics. can also be found in Wayne Parsons' (1998) book. 1964: 339). and the rise of a distinct discipline and profession in business and enterprises. 'Injustice is every virtue comprehended' (Nicomachean Ethics. to be paid to the reservation about 'artful application' of legality. and second. especially those suffering from bureaucratic deficiencies in their reasoning and decision-making procedures. 5. 7. It is not perhaps without good reason to argue that professionalism in government. as Taylor (1947) would have described it. 1450 b. 1984).Notes: 1. to citizens and clients). Aristotle held that 'ethics is that which manifests choice' (Poetics. however. Concerning the sources of inspiration in drafting the ALIR model of imperatives of ethical reasoning in public administration. tend to confuse problems with dilemmas. representative democracy. It is not surprising that organizations. besides those mentioned in the introductory section of this article. It is worth mentioning here Max Weber's timely distinction between two particular types of knowledge and expertise obtaining in bureaucratic organizations: these are. has in a sense been a process that has run in parallel during the span of the 20th century with the formation of the 'principles of scientific management'. rule of law. 17). 1129 b. 8. and acquaintance with and command of the intrinsic qualities and procedures of the administration itself ('Dienstwissen'). Tiihonen's (1993) elaboration of Lennart Lundquist's idea about the four loyalties in administration (loyalty to hierarchical order. rigidity and legalistic bureaupathology which are often met in practice and tend to undermine the legitimate functions and objectives of the principle (Makrydemetres. 3. 6-9). first. since it is acquired only through experience of running the bureaucratic system itself (Weber. In that regard. Needless to explain further that judicial review of administrative action neither excludes nor obviates financial control by special courts of accounts (Cour des Comptes) and efforts to combat maladministration by Ombudsman-type institutions. 4. An exposure of some of the most easily met dilemmas in public organizations. 8-9). Due attention ought. technical knowledge of the facts of a particular object of administration ('Fachwissen'). (11 1103 b.

this hem determined by rational principle. 1107 a. examples abound in which professionalism in government and management have crossed each other's ways and paths . 13. then. 1992. 12. as Caiden (1997) has called them) where an articulate and esteemed body of professional state administrators is underdeveloped or altogether missing. Now it is a mean between two vices.' 15 . 1980) reads as follows: 'Virtue. have proven to be. that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect. and again it is a mean because the vices respectively fall short of or exceed what is right in both passion and action. Hood.. 1995). 1991. lying in a mean. The text in David Ross' translation into English (Oxford University Press. while virtue both finds and chooses that which is inter-mediate. i.e.the most recent of them being the rise of 'new public management' (Rhodes. Corruption as an instance of flagrant violation of ethical and professional standards is flourishing in 'hollow states' (or 'kleptocracies'. and by that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Osborne and in the public and private sectors of the economy. is a state of character concerned with choice. Nicomachean Ethics. in certain cases. However elementary or fortuitous this process may. the mean relative to us. 1129 a.

C. Brussels : HAS. (1945) The Managerial Revolution or What is Happening in the World No 14. Gellner. 1. Hegel. (1995) 'The New Public Management in the 198Os: Variations on a Theme'. Hobsbawm. Report of the Regional Conference. (1994) Age oj'Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century. (1987) Le Systeme du Merite. 16 .A. Thessaloniki. Civil Society. J. pp. Argyriades. Asmeron and E. (1967) Philosophv of Right. Efficiencv. M. Alistair (1 985) Ethics. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Knox. J.London: Unwin University Books. B. Hood. Cahier d' Histoire de I'Administration. London: Michael Joseph. London: Pelican Books. (1998) The Quest for Responsibility: Accountabili and Citizenship in Complex Organizations. Hart. Dimitrios (1996) 'Neutrality and Professionalism in the Public Service'.E. London: Heinneman. CA: Stanford University Press. J. Oxford: Clarendon Press. G. Habermas. H. Vol. and Pellew. (1 997) 'The Essence of Public Service Professionalism'. in H. Professionalism.. E. London: Macmillan. Bovens. Cassesse. Anthony (1990) The Consequences of Modernity. and the Market. Stanford. (1959) The Profession of Government: The Public Service in Europe. Ethical Values and Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press. G. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Giddens. Reis (eds) Democratization and Bureaucratic Neutralit-v. Caiden. Chapman. 1 14-23. and its Rivals.L. The International Journal of Technical Cooperation 4: 237-45.References Argyriades. Dimitrios (1998) 'The Role of Civil Society in the Modern State'. (1996) Conditions of Liberty.M. (1987) The Theory of Communicative Action. S.K. London: Penguin Books. transl. T. UNDESA 1997 Public Service in Transition: Enhancing its Role. (1 96 1) The Concept of Law. E. 2. Bumham. Buchanan.

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